Jan. 21, 2012
HOUSTON - The University of Houston swimming and diving team dropped a close 155-143 decision against SMU Saturday afternoon inside the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.
The point totals were close all day long and became even tighter after Reka Kovacs (4:31.86) and Natalie Newcomb (4:40.35) took 1-2 in the 400-yard IM, the second-to-last event of the day. That event followed the Cougars domination on the 3M boards where they outscored SMU 15-3 in the event and Houston had narrowed the cut the margin from 29 to three over two events.
The dual meet would be decided by the winner of the 200 free relay and the Cougars lost a very close relay to end the day. Despite the decision, head swimming coach Augie Busch was pleased with times and the efforts of his team.
"Considering how hard we have been training in and out of the water, I was very pleasantly surprised with the results," said Busch. "SMU is a very quality program and they probably didn't send out their best lineup in the beginning of the meet. But we forced them to change their lineup as the meet went on so that's a bit of a compliment. We were in a position to win the meet in the last event and that's is what we want - to be competing and to learn what it takes to win."
The swimmers took first five events. Heather Winn was the first Cougar in the winning circle after finishing in 17:18.23 in the 1,650 free. Winn would finish as runner up in the 500 free (5:04.25) as Lizzie Justice took third in both events to solidify the Cougars efforts in the distance free events.
Kim Eeson added two wins in the 50 (24.19) and 200 free (1:51.55) to add 18 points to the Cougars score.
The Houston divers made a strong showing with junior Julia Lonnegren sweeping the 1M (294.38) and 3M (303.90) competitions for the third time this year. Freshman Natasha Burgess finished as the runner up in the 3M (283.65) and third in the 1M (294.38).
"Julia is very consistent and stable, and Natasha did a great job today too," said head diving coach Jane Figueiredo. "We still have some work to do in the 3-meter but we'll get there. I have high expectations for this group and we need to be able to step up to that level we're capable of."
Houston hosts LSU, Rice and Tulane next weekend Jan. 27-28 at the CRWC. Friday's competition begins at 5 p.m. and Saturday's meet will start at 11 a.m.